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FACTS: Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)-Private respondent(the petitioner in the initial proceeding) HON. ZEUS C.

ABROGAR, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 150 whose decision is sought to be reversed in the case. -Respondent Luis Marcos P. Laurel board member and corporate secretary of Baynet Co., Ltd. (Baynet)- now Petitioner(one of the respondent or co-accused in the case filed by PLDT) PLDT claims that herein petitioner together with his co-accused conspired together in order to steal and use the international long distance calls belonging to PLDT by conducting International Simple Resale (ISR), which is a method of routing and completing international long distance calls using lines, cables, antennae, and/or air wave frequency which connect directly to the local or domestic exchange facilities of the country where the call is destined, effectively stealing this business from PLDT while using its facilities in the estimated amount of P20,370,651.92 to the damage and prejudice of PLDT, in the said amount without the priors consent. Laurel however alleged that the telephone calls with the use of PLDT telephone lines, whether domestic or international, belong to the persons making the call, not to PLDT. He argued that the caller merely uses the facilities of PLDT, and what the latter owns are the telecommunication infrastructures or facilities through which the call is made. He also asserted that PLDT is compensated for the callers use of its facilities by way of rental; for an outgoing overseas call, PLDT charges the caller per minute, based on the duration of the call. Thus, no personal property was stolen from PLDT. According to Laurel, the P20,370,651.92 stated in the Information, if anything, represents the rental for the use of PLDT facilities, and not the value of anything owned by it.

ISSUE: Whether or not international telephone calls using Bay Super Orient Cards through the telecommunication services provided by PLDT for such calls, or, in shor t, PLDTs business of providing said telecommunication services, are proper subjects of theft under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code HELD: GRANTED. (Baynet cards do NOT fall under the ambit of RPC A308 Theft) The court finds that the international telephone calls placed by Bay Super Orient Card holders, the telecommunication services provided by PLDT and its business of providing said services are not personal properties under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code. The rule is that, penal laws are to be construed strictly. Art. 308. Who are liable for theft. Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence, against or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latters consent. For one to be guilty of theft, the accused must have an intent to steal (animus furandi) personal property, meaning the intent to deprive another of his ownership/lawful possession of personal property which intent is apart from and concurrently with the general criminal intent which is an essential element of a felony of dolo (dolus malus).

An information or complaint for simple theft must allege the following elements: (a) the taking of personal property; (b) the said property belongs to another; (c) the taking be done with intent to gain; and (d) the taking be accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation of person/s or force upon things. One is apt to conclude that "personal property" standing alone, covers both tangible and intangible properties and are subject of theft under the Revised Penal Code. But the words "Personal property" under the Revised Penal Code must be considered in tandem with the word "take" in the law. The statutory definition of "taking" and movable property indicates that, clearly, not all personal properties may be the proper subjects of theft. The general rule is that, only movable properties which have physical or material existence and susceptible of occupation by another are proper objects of theft. According to Cuello Callon, in the context of the Penal Code, only those movable properties which can be taken and carried from the place they are found are proper subjects of theft. Intangible properties such as rights and ideas are not subject of theft because the same cannot be "taken" from the place it is found and is occupied or appropriated. A naked right existing merely in contemplation of law, although it may be very valuable to the person who is entitled to exercise it, is not the subject of theft or larceny. Such rights or interests are intangible and cannot be "taken" by another. Thus, right to produce oil, good will or an interest in business, or the right to engage in business, credit or franchise are properties. So is the credit line represented by a credit card. However, they are not proper subjects of theft or larceny because they are without form or substance, the mere "breath" of the Congress. There is "taking" of personal property, and theft is consummated when the offender unlawfully acquires possession of personal property even if for a short time; or if such property is under the dominion and control of the thief. The taker, at some particular amount, must have obtained complete and absolute possession and control of the property adverse to the rights of the owner or the lawful possessor thereof.It is not necessary that the property be actually carried away out of the physical possession of the lawful possessor or that he should have made his escape with it. Neither asportation nor actual manual possession of property is required. Constructive possession of the thief of the property is enough. Taking may be by the offenders own hands, by his use of innocent persons without any felonious intent, as well as any mechanical device, such as an access device or card, or any agency, animate or inanimate, with intent to gain. Intent to gain includes the unlawful taking of personal property for the purpose of deriving utility, satisfaction, enjoyment and pleasure. Gas and electrical energy should not be equated with business or services provided by business entrepreneurs to the public. Business does not have an exact definition. Business is referred as that which occupies the time, attention and labor of men for the purpose of livelihood or profit. It embraces everything that which a person can be employed. Business may also mean employment, occupation or profession. Business is also defined as a commercial activity for gain benefit or advantage. Business, like services in business, although are properties, are not proper subjects of theft under the Revised Penal Code because the same cannot be "taken" or "occupied." If it were otherwise, as claimed by the respondents, there would be no juridical difference between the taking of the business of a person or the services provided by him for gain, vis--vis, the taking of goods, wares or merchandise, or equipment comprising his business. If it was its intention to include "business" as personal property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, the Philippine Legislature should have spoken in language that is clear and definite: that business is personal property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code.

Respondent PLDT does not acquire possession, much less, ownership of the voices of the telephone callers or of the electronic voice signals or current emanating from said calls. The human voice and the electronic voice signals or current caused thereby are intangible and not susceptible of possession, occupation or appropriation by the respondent PLDT or even the petitioner, for that matter. PLDT merely transmits the electronic voice signals through its facilities and equipment. Baynet Card Ltd., through its operator, merely intercepts, reroutes the calls and passes them to its toll center.